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VICTOR JOECKS: Las Vegas parent: 2nd-grader’s homework asserts Columbus ‘not a hero’

If you think Christopher Columbus is worth celebrating, check your child’s schoolwork. A teacher may be trying to indoctrinate him or her into believing the explorer was a villain.

A parent of a second grader at Goolsby Elementary School in Summerlin sent me a recent homework assignment given to students. It was text to be read aloud each night, along with some questions. Pretty standard stuff — except for the content.

“Some people think of Christopher Columbus as a hero, but he was the opposite,” the paper reads. He “enslaved people” and “brought diseases like small pox to the islands.”

The sheet makes no mention of Columbus’ accomplishments, such as traversing the Atlantic Ocean to reach the New World. Nor is there any recognition of Columbus’ vision, determination and skill.

The assignment asks students to answer this question. “Why was Christopher Columbus NOT a hero?”

“I found it alarming,” the mom said. She requested anonymity because her child is still in the class. “It seems like a very left perspective on history.”

It is. For years, liberals have waged war on traditional American heroes such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and, yes, Columbus. Leftists contend that these heroes must be defined by their faults.

Each of those men did indeed have serious flaws. But they aren’t celebrated for their moral failings. In Columbus’ case, he’s honored for opening the Western Hemisphere to Western civilization. Many of Columbus’ peers shared his shortcomings. They didn’t discover a New World. That’s why Columbus is celebrated and they aren’t. Without Columbus or someone like him, there’d be no Goolsby Elementary School.

Instead of Columbus Day, the homework assignment promotes celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. While Columbus is presented as a cartoonish villain, Native Americans are cast in a wholly positive light. “On this day, we celebrate the beauty of all native Americans and their culture,” it states.

There’s no mention of the Aztecs conducting human sacrifices by cutting out a victim’s beating heart. Nor did the assignment reference the frequent and bloody warfare between North American tribes that predated Columbus.

The truth is that every individual and every society has virtues and flaws. Choosing to celebrate the accomplishments of a person or group isn’t willful ignorance. It’s promoting values, characteristics and principles we want to see people emulate today. This is the distinction between statues of Jefferson and a confederate general. One helped create the country. The other rebelled against it.

Both Columbus and Native Americans did things worth emulating and remembering. There’s no need to create a conflict between Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day. The left wants that conflict based on its misgivings about America. Celebrate the latter on the day after Thanksgiving. That’s a time when many Americans are already thinking about Native Americans.

Regardless, that homework is entirely inappropriate for second graders. District officials didn’t respond to my requests for comment, including whether the assignment was part of district curriculum or not. They refused to offer parents any assurances that their children aren’t being fed similar propaganda.

“If this is being sent home, what else is being taught and said in the classroom?” the mom asked. Good question. If you ask your kids and grandchildren, their answers may shock you.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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